1-in-4 Highly Religious U.S. Marriages Have Abuse


How many Christian marriages have experienced abuse (intimate partner violence) with their current partner?


It’s difficult to believe, but the conservative pro-marriage researchers at the Institute for Family Studies, have reported that 1-in-4 highly religious U.S. marriages have experienced intimate partner violence with their current partner.


That’s a shocking claim, but apparently they’ve got the evidence.


The conservative pro-family pro-church organization Institute for Family Studies, published a report by researchers DeRose, Johnson and Wang, who studied intimate partner violence in deeply religious couples in 11 countries, including the U.S.


They found that in the U.S., about 1-in-4 couples reported intimate partner violence (IPV) in their current relationship. And, sadly, in the U.S. the finding was the same whether they were highly religious or not.  In other countries, religion made a difference, but not in the U.S.  (See pages 36-37. Page 37 shows that U.S. rates are different than other peer countries.)


The high IPV rates in the U.S. are not due to the proliferation of other religions in our country.  According to Pew Research, in the U.S., Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist faiths combined make up very little of our religious makeup, only 6 in 100 people. Christians represent the vast majority — more than 70% — of religious people in America.


"The findings from the U.S. indicate no differences in IPV with respect to couple religiosity..."


What counts as intimate partner violence? How do you measure abuse?


Nearly 1-in-4 men who claimed to be highly religious also claimed they had perpetrated violence on their partner.


The men were asked these questions. 


  • —1. “How often do you physically hurt your partner?”


  • —2 “How often do you threaten your partner with harm?”


  • —3 “How often do you force your partner to have sex?”


  • —4 “How often do you withhold money from your partner?”


The 5 options for answers: "Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Fairly often, or Frequently."


The women were asked:

  • —1. “How often does your partner physically hurt you?”


  • —2. “How often does your partner threaten you with harm?”


  • —3. “How often does your partner force you to have sex?”


  • —4. “How often does your partner withhold money from you?”



They found that in the U.S. (where the predominant religion is Christianity) there was no significant difference between religious and secular couples and intimate partner violence (IPV) in the current relationship. It came out to 1 in 4 couples, and nearly 1 in 4 men who claimed to be highly religious also claimed they had perpetrated violence on their partner.



In a country of 330 million people, more than 125 million of whom are married, that’s saying that perhaps as many as 31 million individuals are experiencing it in the current relationship.


What Can Our Churches Do?

  1. Be aware that a lot more people in your church are being abused than have ever admitted it to you. It is a source of shame. They keep quiet and don't come forward.
  2. Understand WHY they don't come forward, or if they do, they cover it up or minimize it or explain it away. Click link to hear abuse survivors tell why they stayed silent: www.livesavingdivorce.com/stay-2
  3. Teach staff and volunteers how to recognize abuse and the first thing to say and do. Here's a link to a page that includes a FREE domestic violence training video for church staff, created by a pastor who testified in a murder trial involving a couple in his own church.
  4. Change how your church thinks about marital abuse.
  5. Read the words of abuse survivors who tell about wonderful pastors and terrible pastors.


The Bible says the husband's spiritual life will be hindered if he doesn't treat his wife with honor and understanding:

1 Peter 3:7 NLT: In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

Are you considering a life-saving divorce and need support and clarity? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 4 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Supporters and people helpers are also welcome.  I’ve written a book about spiritual abuse and divorce for Christians, The Life-Saving Divorce: Paperback: https://amzn.to/3cF1j25  Or eBook: https://amzn.to/3CCBsnr

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Start Here



Does God Hate Divorce? God Gave Divorce Due to Hardhearted Abusers & Betrayers


Physical and Emotional Abuse & Infidelity


God Allows Divorce to Protect Victims


How to Find a Good Supportive Church


What If My Pastor Says It Would Be Wrong to Get Divorced for Abuse?



Divorce Saves Lives: The Surprising (Wonderful!) Truth About Divorce Nobody Told You

Will I Ever Find Love Again? Dating After Divorce: Good News

Finding Happiness and Health After Divorce


Thriving After Divorce: These Christians Tell their Stories

Self-Doubt, Second-Guessing Ourselves, and Gaslighting


Children and Divorce: Researchers Give Hope


High Conflict Divorce and Parenting


Recommended Reading List and Free Resources for Christians and Other People of Faith


Common Myths






GET THE BOOK! The Life-Saving Divorce is about divorces for very serious reasons: a pattern of sexual immorality, physical abuse, chronic emotional abuse, life-altering addictions, abandonment, or severe neglect. This book will give you hope for your future, and optimism about your children. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.



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